Ooni Didn’t Like Polygamy, Circumstances Forced It On Him– Sister

Princess Folashade Ogunwusi-Fadairo is an elder sister of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, from the same father and mother. She tells EMMANUEL OJO about their childhood days in Ibadan and what life has been like for the family members since her brother became the Ooni of Ife

You are from the royal family of Ile-Ife. Please tell us more about yourself.

I am Princess Folashade Ogunwusi-Fadairo. I’m a native of Ife, as you know. I am a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (Ile-Ife). Right now, I am self-employed; I own a fabric business at Ikota Shopping Mall, Victoria Garden City, Lagos. I’m married to Prince Jide Fadairo and I’m blessed with a kid.

Is your husband also a prince of Ife?

 

No, he is from Abeokuta.

Are you a direct sister to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; that is, were you born by the same father and mother?

The answer is yes. We were born by same parents–father and mother – and I am the first girl in the family.

How large is the family?

It’s a family of seven, apart from my father.

And what is Ooni’s position?

He is the fifth child. He has two younger ones.

Did the Ooni and the rest of you spend your childhood together in the same place?

Yes.

How was growing up like?

We were brought up in Ibadan and growing up was fun. He (Ooni) was very fun to be with, very intelligent, very creative, jovial; he was a good dancer, he was stubborn in a way and he learnt a lot by himself.

For example, he started driving at the age of 11 or so, without anyone guiding him. He just took the (car) key, started the car and that was how he started driving. So, we had a lot of fun together growing up. He taught me how to dance. In my family, if we are to pick the best two dancers, it will be me and him. Up till now, I can still dance and I know he does too but not openly because of his position. I’m very proud to say that.

We used to scold him then that he would spoil something and use what he spoilt to create another thing. He loved making his shoes by himself. I remember we had a flask with a rope handle but he removed the rope and turned it into shoelaces for the shoes he made by himself. We were annoyed that he spoilt the flask.

I also remember that when he was much younger, about age five, there was a drawing competition organised by The PUNCH then for that age group and he won. He drew a head and he actually won. I remember The PUNCH gave him a prize then. He did so many things as a young boy that amazed me and people around him. He’s been very intelligent since childhood and growing up with him was fun.

Was it foretold that he would become the Ooni?

There were some predictions. For instance, my father had three boys and he is the last of the three boys. The prediction had been there that one of the boys would become a king but no name was mentioned and we didn’t know which one of the three it would be. In any case, we didn’t even take the prediction too seriously. You know, people will always predict, it’s left for you to believe or not to believe.

The prediction came and I remember my dad gathering us together to pray for whoever it was going to be and I called my sister aside and said to her: “Do they know when the present one (king) would die? Nobody knows; so, what kind of prediction is that?” But then we joined our father in the prayers, believing that one day, it might happen and it actually happened eventually.

I remember my grandfather used to call him (my brother) Adeyeye Ooni; my late mum also did the same, calling him Adeyeye Ooni. My other brothers were there but I can’t remember my grandfather or mum calling them Adegboyega Ooni or Adetunji Ooni.

Didn’t that spark some kind of jealousy among the brothers?

There was nothing like that. We were just a happy family. I can’t remember any such thing coming up. Actually, we didn’t refer to ourselves as princes and princesses and even our peers didn’t know we were royalties. That was our upbringing.

What religion did your family practise while you were going up?

We were Christians, very strict Christians. We went to Deeper Life (Bible Church) and you know how Deeper Life church is. You know that they are very strict. You know the issue of not watching TV in Deeper Life. My dad was a broadcaster and he monitored news through the TV and the radio. He started with WNTV (Western Nigeria Television), the first television station in Africa. But the doctrine of the Deeper Life then was that they should do away with TV; I don’t know if they still do that now. We were so angry about it.

My parents were initially Anglicans before they joined Deeper Life and then they later joined the Redeemed (Christian Church of God). We were brought up in a Christian home. We were just one humble family in Ibadan. We knew we are from a royal lineage but we really didn’t bother about what was happening at the palace in Ife. My brother (Oba Adeyeye) wasn’t groomed or prepared for the throne at childhood. We just grew up like every other children. Our parents sent us to school like every other normal children. It wasn’t even in our head that we are royalties. We lived our normal lives.

Now that your brother has become the Ooni, as predicted; has that brought any kind of changes to the family?

A lot has changed. Even friends don’t believe that I’m still my normal old self. They believe that I’m up there now and that I wouldn’t want to associate with them anymore but when I have the opportunity of meeting them, I tell them that nothing has changed, that I’m still my normal self. But when we are in public we know how to comport ourselves; we know what we should and shouldn’t do. We can’t behave aggressively or talk anyhow. In any case, these are things that our parents inculcated in us while we were growing up. The background they gave us has been really helpful.

Having had a feel of both the ordinary lifestyle and the royal life, which do you prefer?

Should I be sincere? I prefer the former lifestyle to the current one.

 

I prefer the former lifestyle because now, what they (public members) do is to fabricate lies and pin them on you. A lot of things are being said even about the kabiyesi himself; all sorts of evil things, people fabricating different stories and lies. They tell people that we all live in Ife, controlling the palace, meanwhile, I live in Lagos. Where is that coming from? And people out there believe it so much that they don’t even bother to try to confirm the truth or otherwise of such claims.

On a normal day, I would have preferred that people don’t know much about my private life; to just live my normal life as a Nigerian. But right now, anything that happens there (at the palace) in Ife, it’s all out there on the social media. Even things that didn’t happen, they will just sit down somewhere and fabricate things and people believe these things. If I am unknown, what would they have been writing about me?

What about the privileges of royalty?

Well, just meeting people. And even when you meet people, nobody wants to help you; they think you don’t have any need; they believe you have it all because your brother is the Ooni. There are people coming to you with demands or sending their account numbers via Facebook and Instagram, some even send pictures of themselves taking garri and water and begging for financial help. (They don’t realise that) everybody wants money, help and job; they don’t care to know what’s going on in your own life. It’s not like I don’t like helping people or that I am complaining, but one can only offer help to the best of one’s ability. There are times that you also need help. You want to do one or two things at a time but nobody wants to know that; they are only after their gains.

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Has that taken a toll on your business?

Well, I’m just trying to develop my business in my own way; putting royalty aside and doing it in my own way. Probably some customers come because (they say) ‘she’s Ooni of Ife’s sister’ but I’m just doing it in my own way, believing that things will get better.

You mentioned that you came from a strict Christian background. But recently, the Ooni, being the king, had the honour of taking more than one wife. What’s your opinion about that?

My opinion is that what you have to do, you just have to do it. Meanwhile, that’s his personal life, I can’t meddle in it. What I can say is that I don’t know if you were there during his wedding anniversary or so, if you heard the speech he made, it was very touching and it was something that personally he didn’t like but he had no choice, he had to do it. Where the Yoruba are coming from, polygamy is expected. And being the progenitor of the Yoruba race, inu e ni won bi wa si (we were born in it). For instance, my grandfather had eight wives, that’s paternal and my maternal grandfather had about seven or eight wives too. So, it’s something he had to do, although, I think he avoided it.

Are you saying that as kabiyesi, it is compulsory for him to have more than one wife?

Yes. As kabiyesi, he just has to take more than one wife.

Are there other practices that come with the stool that the Ooni, you or other family members have reservations about?

He has to do it. How do I say this now? It is what God wants him to do and that is what he is doing. He was chosen for it. If I’m chosen for it, I will know what to do. He is called for it, he will do it. If it is my calling, I will know what to do but that’s his own life and he knows what to do. I believe you get what I’m saying. The Yoruba will say, “Ibi ori da ni si la n gbe,”(where fate leads one to, that’s the path one takes). Ibi t’ori da si, Ibe l’oun gbe yen (he’s on the path that fate chose for him). What God purposed for him to come to do in this life is what he is doing and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

What’s your opinion about the 2023 presidential race?

I put everything in God’s hands. God knows what will become of Nigeria and Nigerians. All I’m praying for is the best. Let’s hope for something good and let God in His infinite mercy choose a wonderful leader that will turn Nigeria around for good.

Do you have a preferred candidate?

(Laughs)….. Even if I have, I won’t tell you because in the position that I am I can’t support anybody publicly and I won’t let you know; even kabiyesi is supposed to pray for everybody. I’m just a princess.

Do you think that there is some sort of pressure on the Ooni to endorse a particular candidate as politicians always visit the palace?

They go there for his prayers. Like we all know, he is a first-class monarch in Nigeria, not only in Nigeria, also in Brazil, where they speak Yoruba; just like in Cuba. So, anywhere they speak Yoruba all around the world, he is our progenitor. People go to him for spiritual prayers, for affirmation from God and for so many things. He’s our father and he will give his blessings.

What schools did you attend?

I started my early life at Subuola Memorial Nursery and Primary School at Agodi, Ibadan. The school was created in 1972. I was born in 1970, April 6; I didn’t finish there. I left for the Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Agodi, Ibadan and that was where I finished my primary education and then proceeded to Isabatudeen Girls Grammar School, Bashorun, then I went to the College of Education in Ilesha (Osun State). After that, I went to Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, where I studied English Education. I worked with 21st Century Communications and Advertising Company at Ikosi, Ketu, Lagos. I left there and proceeded to the Nigerian Ports Authority where I worked for some time before I later went into shipping and that was the most interesting part of my life. I was the only female there and all over the port. I was a shipping manager at the port, doing all sorts of things. I was in agency department and what we did basically was to berth vessels and I was the only woman there. It was a very tedious job. Sometimes I resumed at 8am and by 3am (the following day), I was still on the ground because I was expecting a vessel.

I met a lot of people then; I met captains but the challenge I had then was that there was no mobile phone. When Obasanjo came and brought mobile phones, things changed but I had already lost a lot of contacts that I should have got earlier.

I tried to develop a career in shipping but I couldn’t, so I had to leave to start a business. I had a salon and a gift shop. That was in Ikorodu way back after I left the shipping business but now, I run a fabric shop, Wuraola by Fola Couture at Ikota Shopping Mall in VGC. I do that coupled with all the things we do at the palace.

Are there specific functions you perform as a princess or the first princess in the family?

A lot. I do go out to represent the king, even outside the country. I remember going to The Gambia last year to represent him. The Yoruba in The Gambia gathered together to celebrate the Ooni and I was there in The Gambia to represent him. I was meant to go to Ghana too but I had to stay back to prepare myself as I had another trip to Italy. So, I do that and I see to a lot of things too in-house. I pray for him too, I consult for him and if I hear anything, I talk to him. My father is also there and my husband is there as well.

As you said, your husband is also from a royal family in Ogun State. How would you feel if the lot falls on his family and he becomes the next king?

Do you know that the issue actually came up? We lost the Olowu of Owu in Abeokuta, Obasanjo’s town. The issue came up and people were telling him that it was time (for him to become a king) and I said it was time to (go) where? (Laughs)…

I actually told him, though on a lighter note, that if he becomes a king, I will be the only Olori (queen) (laughs)… I told him that he will not marry another wife, that I will be the only one but he looked at me and said, “Well, if God wants me to be there, I will be there.” Unfortunately, he didn’t even pursue it because he is a politician in Ogun State and to the glory of God, we have another Olowu now.

So, is that to say you’re happy or relieved that he didn’t become a king?

Let him face his work as SSA to the governor. He is a very hard-working man and always very agile; he doesn’t like sitting at a place, so I think that suits him better.

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